THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LIFE COACHING & THERAPY: IS THERE ONE? And What is it?
Many people ask: “what exactly is the difference between therapy and coaching?” Well, I feel rather well qualified to answer that question although, there are many styles of both therapy and coaching. A lot of LIfe Coaches like to assert with pride: “Coaching isn’t like Therapy”. I feel I’m also rather qualified to speak directly to that as well …
From my perspective as both a therapist and a coach I say they are both forms of counseling. Counseling is an age old custom of seeking perspective, guidance, help, advice, wisdom and support from someone else that has more of the thing you want, whether that is experience in something, education and training on certain subjects, or is simply known as a wise and trustworthy person you can count on to help you see your way through something. Back a couple of decades ago, there was a movement in mental health field that produced the category of marriage and family therapist (MFT aka Psychotherapist), specifically designed to be in private practice, counseling people that were functioning in their lives and desired help and support with issues about relationships in life.
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It was very different from the mental health workers (Psychologists, Clinical Social Workers) dealing with illness and disease in the medical world and way different than the Psychiatrist (M.D. aka Shrink) type that started this whole professional filed of counseling. Unfortunately, people in this field were not seen as equal to the “doctor” types in the mental health field and they were not covered by health insurance companies because they were not part of the medical field. In short, they felt less than and started lobbying to equalize themselves as a specialty in the field of mental health. Today the MFT category is part of the mental health field and the medical world and is governed by the same board that governs all the other health care categories. They are also covered by many insurances – still not all.
In their every day private practice, they are also still counselors, specifically designated to working with people issues – not illness issues. IN fact, MFT’s often are overlooked in county, government and other employment when competing with LCSWs because they are still not seen as much more than life counselors. Be that as it is in real practice, MFTs must now defer to doctors of some type if there is a physical or mental illness involved. They must also provide their clients with a medical diagnosis of some type of illness if they want to accept insurance payments. They are not qualified to prescribe medication and cannot involuntarily admit someone to a mental hospital. Other law enforcement or medical staff must do so when a Therapist recommends it.
Life Coaching has risen in the place where MFTs originated: Private practice counseling for people living life and wanting support in doing so.
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